Schools open tomorrow amid frightful realization among Zimbabweans that the Education for All mantra is now a thing of the past.
Education for all has become a pipe dream for many children as parents fail to raise school fees because of the prevailing economic crisis that has left most people without jobs.
Augustine Rubaya from Chitungwiza who lost his wife to HIV related ailments said he has two children to fend for, including yet another one that was born with HIV.
“I don’t know how I will manage sending these children to school because I can hardly find work to feed these children. It is very difficult to find a job as companies are closing down. Education will soon be a luxury only the rich can afford,” he said.
A security guard with a popular firm said she was at a loss as to how she was going to raise school fees for her two children and three orphans left by her two sisters.
“I take home US$190 per month and pay US$40 for rent and these five children need to eat good food especially the one who is HIV positive. I am at a loss as to how I will manage.
It is very stressful to see children go hungry because my salary cannot stretch from one month to the other,” said the guard who refused to be identified.Zimbabwe Teachers Association chief executive officer Sifiso Ndlovu said in a telephone interview yesterday that Zimbabwe’s education had taken a hard knock from the prevailing economic problems.
“Provision of quality education is dependent on the investment we make in the education sector. Schools are running on inadequate budgets and this compromises the standard of education.“
The Basic Education Assistance Module (BEAM) which aims to offset education costs for orphans and vulnerable children (OVCs) exists but it is inadequately funded.“What this means is that it has become inadequate for supporting all the needs of OVCs in our communities and the result will be that those children will eventually find it difficult to continue with their education and may drop out,” Ndlovu said.
Ndlovu noted that over 10 000 jobs were lost in 2014 and that reflected a huge drop in income to support education.
Most companies have also cut budgets for education assistance for children of their employees and this has resulted in a rush for places at either mission and government schools from the privately run institutions.
“My sister has transferred her daughter from a private to a mission school, something that has really affected the child. This seems to be the trend everywhere and very soon finding places in the cheaper government or mission schools is going to be very difficult,” said a secretary with a firm in Graniteside Industrial area.
Manuel Nyao, Teachers Union of Zimbabwe Chief Executive Officer who is also Apex Council secretary added his voice saying that Zimbabwe was indeed in a serious crisis as most parents were finding it hard to raise school fees.
He said he was most concerned about civil servants who had not yet received their bonuses and said he was skeptical if they will get the money before schools open.
“As an important stakeholder representing teachers in Zimbabwe, we are concerned that parents are finding it difficult to raise school fees for this first term,’ Nyao said.
He appealed to school authorities not to chase away school children who have not yet paid their school fees as a result of this national economic problem.